In the style of Knot//Braid//Line - a war, a harvest, a crash, a christening, a telegram, and a fable.
On the first day of the first year of his travels, the wanderer Ozgur carried a walking stick, three weeks of dried, salted vegetables, a block of graphite wrapped in copper wire to cook with, a map on sedge paper, a hat, a second hat in case of emergency, and a ridged meditation charm to rub between thumb and forefinger, to feel the heartbeat of the sleepers he is leaving.
The workers have just finished the telegraph line to the forward operations tent of Ratan, head of a two-hundred man operation to map the Lacework Tunnel.
It would be better if they hadn't.
FROM THE OFFICE OF HEDRARCH PURNAMA STOP
YOUR LETTERS OF EXPEDITION ARE REVOKED STOP
YOU HAVE LOST TWO MAGNESIUM CHARGES FIVE SCAVENGERS AND TWO OF MY SWORN WHO HAVE FED FROM THE WINE OF MY BLOOD STOP
BY THE MEASUREMENT OF THE SURVEYORS YOUR EXPEDITION HAS TRAVELED ONLY HALF OF AN OBJECTIVE MILE STOP
BY THE MEASUREMENT OF THE EXPEDITION YOU HAVE TRAVELED FOUR HUNDRED STOP
YOU HAVE FOUND NOTHING STOP
THERE IS NO GENERATOR NO PROCESSING CENTER NO TOWN OF FIRSTBORN TO BE BROUGHT TO HEEL STOP
YOUR ATTEMPTS TO GATHER MY FAVOR ARE NOTICED STOP
On the first day of the sixth year of his travels, the wanderer Ozgur saw one of those few, fabled immortals. She knelt, holding up the weight of the ceiling - and across her arms were dozens of chains in the shape of letters.
Ozgur took one in his hand to read - "You are the wanderer Ozgur. I have seen your face in the eyes of the world. There is a great hall, plated in silver. You will find nothing there."
The immortal looked down at him, and let one of her hands drop from the roof above. Ozgur climbed up through the ceiling, into a great hall, plated in silver.
Argider Maitagarri of 4 watches the harvest come in. The tower overflows with grey fruits, the sea overflows with fish. His sister drowned, six months before - but he found the fish she became, and now it hangs above the door of his room in the tower Maitagarri. A seventh name is all but guaranteed to him.
On the tenth day of the ninth year of his travels, the wanderer Ozgur met the immortal again. The ceiling still pressed down upon her, and still she was silent. The wanderer reached into her chains, peered into the tangle, and read - "I remember you."
The immortal looked down at him, and let one of her hands drop from the roof above. Ozgur climbed up through the ceiling, into a great hall, plated with silver. He saw his own footprints in the dust. And then he started on the long path home.
The city Drinking Water sat above the city of Wheat Fields. Through the hole in the ceiling, Drinking Water sent its aqueducts and extracted its tribute. One day, the patron of Wheat Fields climbed up the fifty thousand stairs between the two, attended by her guards and guarded by her attendants.
She spoke to the patron of Drinking Water for two weeks and three days (a lucky number for her temperament), and changed nothing.
When the tall men from outside came to Wheat Fields, they offered her weapons - guns, and bombs, and machines powered by burning the blood of the walls.
The patron of Wheat Fields was killed soon after, as Drinking Water dropped stones and burning oils and killing cables from their aqueducts. That same day, the patron of Drinking Water was shot dead in the street.
A month later, the tall men from outside called the cities new names.
The good ship Certifier is setting sail. The hydrogen tanks are filled, the shipwright has said his two blessings (traditionally, "Come home safe" and "Come home joyous", though this time he fumbled and said "cheerful"), a relic (three bolts from the Together, ship of the heroic Selectwoman Dyann) has been set into the hold, and the voyage's Selectman, Leander, has been mocked vigorously.
A man on the docks releases the clamp, and the Certifier drifts out, spotlights on the world below.
A city stumbles. One foot cracks through the floor and lands in a pool of water - a second is overstressed, and its knee joint cracks. The people awake to a hammering alarm, but the city has already sent a team for the repair, and a second team to prepare to decontaminate the first.
They light cones of wax around their homes anyway. You can never be too careful.
The first team welds the cracked joint - it will not last, but it will hold for now. Then they spot for the city as it carefully lifts the first leg, and spit in the hole to punish it. When they return they are coated in grainy paste and kept in a room full of burning incense, talking the whole time - hoping any words they caught will make themselves known.
On the hundredth day of the eleventh year of his travels, the wanderer Ozgur returned home. His walking stick had snapped, his vegetables were long eaten, his graphite block was gone, traded to a Navigator for a gun, the gun was lost in a tunnel underneath a electrical substation, the map was drenched in greasy water on an open plain, the hat got caught on a spike, and the emergency hat blew away at the top of the tallest pillar he had ever seen.
But he still held the charm between his forefinger and thumb, and felt the ridge and the hole. One-two, one-two, one-two.